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Strong pushes ban on ‘adversaries’ land ownership

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With Chinese ownership of U.S. land increasing more than 2,200% from 2010 to 2020, lawmakers are pushing legislation to stem the purchases by adversarial governments.

And the push is coming from both sides of the aisle in Congress.

The most recent action came Tuesday when U.S. Reps. Dale Strong (R-Huntsville) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) introduced the “Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act.”

This bipartisan legislation would prohibit the purchase or lease of U.S. agricultural land by individuals associated with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and other foreign adversaries — including Iran, North Korea, and Russia, Strong’s office said.

“The United States can no longer turn a blind eye to the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” Strong said. “As the CCP looks to exploit weaknesses in our free and open society, it is our responsibility to ensure that the American people are protected against those who seek to undermine our national interest.

“This legislation is crucial to ensure our adversaries do not interfere with our food and fiber market by owning agriculture land.”

Additionally, the bill would address gaps in the “Agriculture Foreign Investment Disclosure Act” to increase transparency and accurate reporting related to foreign land ownership in the United States.

“As a former CIA case officer, I recognize the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive influence campaigns, as well as its attempts to target U.S. national security interests through seemingly innocuous transactions,” said Spanberger. “And, as the only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to protecting America’s farms and farm families from foreign threats.

“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill that recognizes the threats posed by not just by the CCP — but also Russia, Iran, and North Korea. If buying up American farmland is a tool for eroding our nation’s food security, economic security, and national security, then we need to be prepared to take steps to push back against these efforts.”

Currently, the United States lacks accurate data on foreign land ownership and investment due to loopholes and inaccurate reporting, Strong said.

“We must be able to effectively monitor who is growing, producing, and marketing our food safety and agriculture products,” Strong said. “Lacking that ability is a clear threat to national security.”

The “Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act” would also prohibit individuals associated with the governments of these foreign adversaries from participating in certain U.S. Department of Agriculture programs. These restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

The bill marks growing bipartisan momentum behind the effort to crack down on CCP-affiliated farmland purchases across the country.

In March, a companion bipartisan bill to the Strong-Spanberger legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

In a March 16 hearing, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack testified that, as of 2021, 400,000 acres of U.S. farmland are owned by Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia.

Additionally, USDA data shows that from 2010 to 2020, Chinese ownership of U.S farmland has increased from $81 million to $1.8 billion – a more than 2,200% increase.

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